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Medical University of Vienna and Vienna General Hospital: Expertise for lung transplants in cases of COVID-19

team of surgeons in operating room © Medical University of Vienna, Christian Houdek

Since then, based on the expertise from Vienna, some 40 transplants have now been carried out on COVID-19 patients throughout the world. The Viennese lung transplant programme now plays a leading role in an international consortium comprising experts from the USA, Europe and Asia. In a study published in the scientific journal "The Lancet Respiratory Medicine", the consortium has now proposed the first general selection criteria for lung transplantation in COVID-19 patients.

"It is clear that such a complex intervention should only be considered for patients who, by virtue of their age and good general health, have a good chance of recovery with new lungs," explains Konrad Hoetzenecker, Head of the lung transplantation programme at MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, which performs around 100 lung transplants a year.

The following factors were established as criteria for potential transplantation: exhaustion of all conservative treatment options, no recovery of the COVID-19-damaged lungs despite at least four weeks of ventilation/ECMO therapy, evidence of advanced and irreversible lung damage in several consecutive CT scans, age below 65 and no relevant comorbidities.

In the meantime, the surgical team at MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital have carried out twelve lung transplantations on COVID-19 patients, demonstrating that even the most seriously ill patients, who would otherwise die, can survive with a lung transplant.

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